Community Meals: Affordable, healthy food + social spaces

“Kitchens and dining room tables aren’t just places to make food. They’re also safe and familiar places to gather, connect, organize, plan and to recuperate. Food not only changes the feeling in a space, it also shifts behaviour.”

Julia Turshen, author of “Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved”

The dining room table offers more than a space to eat a meal. While breaking bread, a shared meal is an opportunity to sit down and converse with others. It offers space to share stories, create new ideas, or even informally practice language. As a shared activity, eating food connects people to community.

According to research at the University of Oxford, the more often people sit down to eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

In Vancouver, approximately half of local residents find it hard to make friends. Approximately one in four people find themselves isolated more often than they would like.

Combining the need for healthy, balanced meals with the need for more social spaces in the city, Vancouver Food Networks offer affordable meals for the community. Community meals are meant to offer meals which are accessible, so the cost of an average community meal is between $3 to $7. These are often homestyle meals, usually prepared and cooked on-site during the week. With advance notice, dietary considerations may be taken into account by the kitchen, too.

If $3 to $7 is still a barrier, free and by-donation meals are available. Breakfasts (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and lunches (Wednesday) are offered for free at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. By-donation lunches (Monday, Wednesday) are available at Gordon Neighbourhood House in the West End.

These community meals usually consist of multiple courses, including dessert. Weekday meals are offered throughout the city at Britannia Community Centre, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, Hastings Community Centre (for seniors), South Van Neighbourhood House, Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, and Kits Neighbourhood House.

Find a Food Network which offers free or low cost meals in your neighbourhood. Learn when you are welcome to drop by to eat a hearty meal and meet your neighbours at the same time.

See up-to-date information on current community meals here.